Be happy, be healthy

Vegan and vegetarian options grow on and around campus

As research has shown the health benefits of meat-free diets, vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming more popular for students.

Anthony Crimarco, a doctoral student in the University of South Carolina’s health promotion, education and behavior program, says people on a vegan diet have a lower body mass index and blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels as well as a lower risk of being diagnosed with some cancers.

Crimarco also credits this shift healthier eating to changes in perception and availability.

There is a growing number of fully vegan and vegetarian restaurants around Columbia — we’re up to five so far — and plenty others have vegan or vegetarian options. These new restaurants are connecting to locals, especially college students, through social media and showing that these diets are accessible.

We’re here to give you the rundown on vegan and vegetarian options on and near campus.

All three primary Carolina Dining restaurants offer a vegan entrée daily on the hot line. Also, Southern Kitchen and Counselor’s Café in the law school offer daily vegan entrées. Colloquium Café offers vegan wraps along with vegan cheese for their flatbreads. Oath Pizza also has vegan cheese available for their pizza.

Alternate protein options are also available at the three main dining halls’ salad bars, and students can fill their tacos with tofu at Twisted Taco. Congaree River Smokehouse has a vegan burger and bean tapenade or crumbled vegan burger as a protein option for a salad. Plus, if students ask, they can get a nondairy bun for their burger.

Staff can make a vegetarian sandwich with hummus at the infamous Horseshoe Deli and a vegetarian stir fry at Pei Wei. Olio, since it’s Mediterranean, also has plenty of ingredients to help students go meat-free including hummus, falafels, baba ghanoush, quinoa tabbouleh and carrot mint salad to name a few. Panera has a soba noodle broth bowl with edamame.

Finish off dinner with dessert at Carolina Creamery with a nondairy sorbet or vegan smoothie.

Tired of on-campus dining?

Good Life Café, Universal Love Vegan Café and Peace of Soul Vegan Kitchen are three fully vegan/vegetarian restaurants nearby with food that is well-seasoned and delicious.

The staffs at each of these are very helpful for nonvegans who want to give it a try and are willing to answer questions about the menu. Be aware that both the Universal Love Vegan Café and Peace of Soul Kitchen have menus that change every day, so you mostly likely will not be able to look them up before you get there.

Also, the Peace of Soul Kitchen is currently undergoing renovations, but you can catch them in their food truck driving around Columbia.

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